A companion piece to his 2021 interview book Griot: Examining the Lives of Jazz's Great Storytellers, Griot: This Is Important! finds trumpeter Jeremy Pelt playing songs inspired by some of his most potent interviews. Here, we get intimate and thought-provoking insights from many of the artists featured in the book, including Paul West, JD Allen, Harold Mabern, Rene Marie, and others. Each conversation is accompanied by an original work from Pelt and his quintet with vibraphonist Chien Chien Lu, pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, and drummer Allan Mednard. Musically, these are some of the most lyrical and harmonically lush songs Pelt has recorded and work in unison with the spoken interview tracks. Some tracks, including Pelt's own introduction to the album, as well as his conversation with pianist Bertha Hope, find him underscoring the words with music. Elsewhere, he presents the conversations on their own without musical accompaniment and then follows with an instrumental track. Many of these conversations delve into issues of racial and cultural identity, and Pelt's music is fittingly nuanced. Often his songs reflect the subject matter of the interview, as on "Carry Christ Wherever You Are," which follows his conversation with bassist Paul West discussing his Lutheran minister father. Similarly, Pelt's "A Beautiful (F*cking) Lie" follows his interview with vocalist René Marie discussing her dissonant feelings surrounding her identity as a black American. While Pelt's music certainly stands on its own, the interviews included on Griot: This Is Important! help to frame the deep sense of community and tradition that inspired it.
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